The popularity of outdoor rooms is on the rise as more & more people upgrade their current homes, including their outdoor space. Let’s talk about how to enjoy our gardens and patios in privacy for meditation, journaling, hiding from our significant other, or just napping. We all need a little relief now and then to help us deal with the stresses of our ever-increasing chaotic lives. But how can we do this when we share our spaces with roommates, kids, significant others, and other family members and pets and have nosy neighbors who insist on “being neighborly” at the most inopportune moments?
There are three ways to create a PERSONAL sanctuary to escape life’s everyday hassles. Creating an inner cover (i.e., your happy place) and then creating a space within your home for a personal sanctuary (i.e., in the bath or your bedroom) were detailed. The final position you can make a shelter is in any outdoor space (i.e., a garden, patio, and balcony) where you can find some quiet and privacy.
A sanctuary, by definition, should transport you to another place and time to relax and recharge your batteries.
In creating your outdoor sanctuary, you will use the same design principles detailed in previous articles: layered lighting, comfortable furniture (i.e., hammock-this is a necessity for me!!), sound (fountain, wind chimes, hidden speakers for music, nature), and accessories that bring you joy (gnome/fairy figurines, statues, flowers). The rule, which shall be repeated (probably ad nauseam), is that you should surround yourself with things that you love and serve a purpose in your life. (This will be a topic for an upcoming clutter article). If you have items displayed outside that are rusted, broken, or just thrown behind the garage because you have no other place else to put it-fix it or get rid of it. It is serving no purpose other than to make you angry (not good Feng Shui!!). Your sanctuary should be making you happy-not stress you out.
My outdoor sanctuary is a private corner of my L-shaped yard. Here, I have my hammock set up by a couple of bird feeders, birdbaths, and the mutant sunflowers (mine grow over 10″ and spread out) that grow in this corner. One of my dogs (Libby) plants herself under the hammock, and the other one (Ossie) stalks chipmunks in the sunflower forest. Here I’m hidden on one side by the garage, while the sunflower forest, trees, and fence offer privacy on the other sides. It is here that I read, write this column, and sometimes nap while listening to the birds. I always feel refreshed after time spent in my sanctuary.
Being outside in Mother Nature is a natural, inexpensive form of Prozac.
If you are genuinely motivated and have a bit of a green thumb, you can create a healing garden or a Zen garden as your sanctuary. Many hospitals and hospices incorporate healing gardens on their grounds for their patients, patient’s family and staff to use. When creating these spaces, remember to include all elements into the design-a water feature is vital. It can be a fountain or a small pond that can also help to mask unwanted sounds. A comfortable place to sit, whether it’s a bench, chair, or the ground, will add to the experience and help if you will be sitting for long periods in meditation.
Romy Rawlings states in her book Healing Gardens, “…we should learn to think of…(gardens)…as a haven where the natural world can embrace us.” Wow, that puts it in perspective. Rawlings goes on to say that “a garden is a perfect place for self-expression, a place where you can be creative, developing aspects of your self that may be denied elsewhere in your life.” You can easily add color and humor to a garden through your flower/plant choices and accent pieces. Do you have gnomes, angels, or butterfly figurines placed throughout your garden? Let your personality shine.
To moat or not to moat…that is the question-D. Radaj.
Privacy from the neighbors, as mentioned earlier, is usually the biggest complaint I hear from clients when creating outdoor sanctuaries. My first suggestion is to check with your city and zoning ordinances to see if putting in a moat is feasible. It’s usually not-and I am generally joking when I suggest that, no matter how irritating the offending neighbor is. However, you can install an extensive water feature between your homes to symbolize a moat. Water features are an excellent addition to any outdoor space. In Feng Shui terms, a water feature placed in the front of your home (or office building) is terrific for your Career Area (refer to Bagua Board example from previous articles. Think of large McMansions or office complexes; a fountain is usually placed right in front! (They are “Feng Shui-ing,” and they might not even know it!). Water features can be set and include the following:
– A birdbath counts as a water feature AND brings the activity and energy of birds and other wildlife.
– A pond with or without fish-make sure it is well-maintained, however, so it doesn’t become stagnant and a mosquito breeding ground (not good Feng Shui!). You can install a pond in a weekend and purchase the parts at your local home improvement store.
– A fountain also works, make sure it is size appropriate for space. The sound of moving water is very relaxing and calming, and therefore perfect for a sanctuary.
OK-since moats are off the table as an option, how about a fence? If you don’t have an existing wall, and installing one isn’t an option or in the budget, again-check with your city council for zoning ordinances, consider these options:
– Plant arborvitaes that will create a “natural” fence and block offending views, build homes for wildlife and make a windbreak (or the dreaded 4-letter word…snow) to help protect your yard.
– Installing a pergola in your yard will create an outside room for you to hideout and meditate. You can order these and assemble them yourself if your handy, or you can work with your favorite designer/architect/contractor and design your own
Finding time to visit your sanctuary is critical in balancing the demands your life places upon you, or that you place upon it. You must take the time to recharge by getting a good night’s sleep, having some alone time, or time to “be.” Get lost in a daydream or unleash your inner Picasso. This time is as essential to your wellbeing as food, water, and breathing is in maintaining a healthy body, mind, and spirit.